Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table
An incredible memoir from one of the world’s most eminent heart surgeons and some of the most remarkable and poignant cases he’s worked on.
Grim Reaper sits on the heart surgeon’s shoulder. A slip of the hand and life ebbs away.
The balance between life and death is so delicate, and the heart surgeon walks that rope between the two. In the operating room there is no time for...more
The author is a very forthright sort of man, and a very empathetic one too. The people he operates on he describes in detail, I felt for him when he lost a patient, I rejoiced with him when his inventions kept people alive. And I held my breath when he operated on a pregnant ...more
Repair is cardinal in the life of this surgeon. Within we witness rehabilitation of a mitral valve, a donor heart transplantation and the excavation of a ...more
A working class lad from Scunthorpe who watc ...more
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the hospital predominately featured in this book was my very own local one - and where I began my own career as a registered nurse in 2012. Although I have not had the pleasure of meeting the author personally, his accounts of ...more
This one stood out to me, the fact Westaby was from the UK peaked my interest too. I hadn't listened to someone from that profession who lived outside the USA and it had me very curious. I started listening to it the same night on the way to work.
Slightly disappointed he didn't narrate it himself... only because it is ...more
A true trailblazer but oddly for a man of this nature and genius not at all egotistical, he came across brilliantly and all the stories he told, all the people he saved and the ones he couldn't will stay with me for a long long time.
Spanning many years and many innovations, "Fragile ...more
Fragile Lives is a memoir written by Stephen Westaby, one of the most well known cardiac surgeons and hugely prolific in his chosen field. A trailblazer from very early on in his career, he continued to pave the way for the use of new and unknown ...more
Fragile Lives, by Professor Stephen Westaby, is a memoir that is both awe inspiring and heart-rending. It tells the story of the medical career of a man raised in working class Scunthorpe who became a world class, ground-breaking cardiac surgeon before watching his life saving profession being stymied by the NHS bureaucracy that we know today.
The first ...more
It's amazing how far medicine has come in just a few generations. Who would have thought artificial hearts can and do work. The ...more
The writing is no-nonsense yet vivid, sparing with its forays into more imaginative territory. A child’s heart looks like a ‘quivering black banana’ after Westaby’s finished trying to make it work again. The straw-coloured fluid that often pours out of a pierced pe ...more
I really, really enjoyed this memoir - I fancied something that would make a change from all the fiction I usually read, and this turned out to be the perfect pick.
It's full of fascinating stories, both from Professor Stephen Westaby himself as he takes us through some of the key operations in his career, but there's also a lot focusing on the people going under Westaby's knife and how they felt, what led to them needing surgery (including back storie ...more
He covers mostly his professional career and gives very little insight into his personal life. The book is written in such an empathic manner that one could rejoice with the author when a patient is saved. A very detailed account of every case but the author mostly focuses on the surgical procedure. I like the author's approach as a surgeon, he was empathic and at the same time with very tough nerves. This book is a little technical and you can get through ...more
A most enjoyable read to learn about what does on in the mind of the person wielding the scalpel.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I requested the book, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I do have to say I do know a bit regarding anatomy and physiology, and I did not expect the author to dive in it so deep on it. I mean, there are even diagram ...more
It’s full of rich anatomical detail, written in flowing prose, with such vivid descriptions of patients and the conditions they had to endure. He clearly explains his thought processes as he goes through each operation, listing every step, and why each of those actions were so critical. It’s all summed up at the end when he tracks the post operative outcomes of patients; he links the some of the steps taken in surgery to the vari ...more
We meet a young girl with a genetic heart defect, an old man with congestive heart failure, a pregnant woman who needs surgery but refuses to terminate the life of her unborn baby as well as ...more
Repetitive at times (how many times do you want to hear about the author sawing through the sternum with the electrocautery, piercing the pericardium etc etc. Still, each case is sufficiently distinctive to not lose the reader. The author has an interesting habit of thinking up innovative surgical methods on long flights, which was cool.
Never get ...more
There are many technical intricacies that I don't comprehend, but William would appreciate. I get enough of the gist to understand what is happening with the procedures. I especially like Dr. Westaby's reflections on his own life and rely on his view regarding what makes a great surgeon.
The book I read was titled "Open Heart".